Drug resistance TB cases rising in Europe

Nobody in Europe is 100 percent protected from drug-resistant tuberculosis, said Ogtay Gozalov, a medical officer at the World Health Organization.

WHO says the nine countries with the world’s highest rates of drug resistance in new tuberculosis patients are in Europe.

There are approximately 81,000 new cases of drug-resistant TB a year in Europe, although many countries are failing to diagnose it. TB cases in the UK are concentrated in large cities. In 2009, there were 58 cases of drug-resistant TB in the UK.

Britain’s capital, London, has the highest TB rate of any capital city in western Europe with around 3,500 cases a year, 2 percent of which are MDR-TB.

Experts say around 7 percent of patients with straightforward TB die, and that death rate rises to around 50 percent of patients with drug-resistant forms.

On Tuesday, WHO released a plan to curb the spread of drug-resistant TB across Europe. Only about 32 percent of patients with drug-resistant TB in Western Europe get appropriate treatment. Cases of multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) — where the infections are resistant to first-line and then second-line antibiotic treatments — are spreading fast, with about 440,000 new patients every year around the world.

Source: World Health Organization, Switzerland

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